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The Inn Crowd: Hotels from Somewhere to "Satori"
Posted November 05, 2010 to photo album "The Inn Crowd: Hotels from Somewhere to "Satori""
In setting Somewhere at L.A.’s famed Chateau Marmont, Sofia Coppola tapped into that hotel’s mythic past. We look at other hotels whose histories define them.
Slide 7: Life and Death at the Chelsea Hotel
Built in 1883 as an apartment co-op – and until 1899 the tallest building in New York – the Chelsea became a hotel in 1905.
While the Algonquin banks on its literary laurels, the Chelsea Hotel, at 222 West 23rd Street in New York City, bills itself as “a center of bohemian and artistic creativity.” Another difference between the two is that many of the famous guests of the Chelsea died young. On November 9, 1953, the Welsh poet Dylan Thomas, who’d railed two years earlier in perhaps his most famous poem against going “gentle into that good night,” died of alcohol poisoning while staying at the Chelsea Hotel. On September 21, 1968, Charles R. Jackson, the author of the alcoholic drama The Lost Weekend, committed suicide there. And on Oct. 12, 1978, the Sex Pistols’ bassist Sid Vicious may have stabbed his girlfriend, Nancy Spungen, to death on Oct. 12, 1978. (Vicious, born John Simon Ritchie, was under the influence when she died and unable to recall how she ended on the bathroom floor, having bled to death after being stabbed in the abdomen by his knife.) At the same time, the Chelsea Hotel has given birth to a number of books and movements. In 1962, nine years after Dylan Thomas’ death, a Minnesotan boy named Robert Allen Zimmerman there renamed himself Bob Dylan, in honor of the dead poet. Arthur C. Clarke wrote the sci-fi classic 2001: A Space Odyssey while a guest at the hotel. “The Chelsea has always been a sort of Tower of Babel of creativity and bad behavior,” observed an International Herald Tribune reporter. “Some of the world’s most gifted and destructive minds have called 222 West 23rd St. home.” Writing in the New York Times Book Review, Richard R. Lingeman put it this way: “The Chelsea Hotel may be one of the few civilized places in New York, if we mean by civilized freedom of the spirit, tolerance of differences, creativity and art.”